Govt asked to do away with Amnesty Schemes

LAHORE: A group of businessmen has recommended broadening of the tax base through appropriate legislation to ensure that all income-earners pay their equitable share of taxes, including on agriculture income.In a press release, All Pakistan Business Forum President Ibrahim Qureshi suggested that the culture of amnesty schemes should be eliminated as it discouraged honest taxpayers and penalties should be introduced in the law to punish tax dodgers.

“Appropriate laws should be framed to enable the government to seize local assets of equivalent value, or levy appropriate taxes, if any person is found to be holding assets outside the country for which the income source could not be established,” he said.Qureshi emphasised the need for facilitating export-oriented industries in the forthcoming federal budget with streamlined rules, regulations and procedures to allow them to play their due role in economic stability of the country.

Expressing concern over continued decline in exports despite the country having all the necessary resources, he expected exports to remain restricted to $23 billion at the end of current fiscal year on June 30. “This is not a good omen,” he said.He called for putting greater focus on investment in the energy sector, lowering tariffs on smuggling-prone goods, enhancing share of direct taxes in revenues and reducing slabs of indirect taxes to achieve key economic targets in next fiscal year 2016-17.

In order to bridge the gap in demand and supply of energy, maximum funds should be earmarked for construction of dams and water reservoirs and tapping the Thar coal deposits. Qureshi was of the view that the Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992 should be amended appropriately to curb the outflow of undeclared income through unofficial channels from Pakistan and its inflow into Pakistan through banking channels in foreign exchange.With the demand for improving the tax structure, he pointed out that the existing structure discouraged investment and encouraged rent-seeking.

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